Weddings come in all shapes and sizes. Some couples may lean towards an intimate, laid-back affair, whereas for others, more importance lies in having everyone there, a huge party, and a day to be celebrated by all.
Whatever size you opt for, this article isn’t intended to guilt you into what you should or shouldn’t do. View it more as a handy list of suggestions on ways in which you can lessen your wedding footprint. As you read though the tips, you’ll soon find they also save you money. So, let’s get stuck in with some of the key elements this wedding or event may involve.
If you want to be an eco-angel, then less is really more. You could opt for a venue where the structure of the building or the general surroundings are the décor. A beach or woodland are the obvious choices to achieve this, or perhaps an old barn where the beams and structure do the hard work for you.
All this said, if you’re anything like I was, part of the fun in planning a wedding is thinking about how to decorate it! Many couples tend to decorate tables, the bar, doorways and maybe a little something on the dancefloor. If you are someone who really can’t picture going cold turkey on the decorations, then don’t despair. There are so many options of eco-friendly things you can do to liven up a space without felling a woodland to do so. As a general guide, think nature, borrow & recycle.
For your tables, why not create a natural runner of ivy, greenery, or dried Autumn leaves from your garden? Leaves can be washed and dried before use and scattered over a table or in the corners of a room. This simple, not to mention, free form of decoration can transform the feel of a venue to resemble a set from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ For extra points, why not put these items back where you found them post event or use as compost for next year’s gardening?
Captured at The Secret garden boho ball
Another effective method to bring a venue alive, is to use old tree branches or large twigs as your overhead canopy. When used on a table frame above your guests’ tables, all manner of items can be hung, intertwined, or wrapped around these natural frames. Some of my favourite methods are hanging recycled jars or glass balls with candles within, seasonal flowers, recycled hanging vases made from cans, macrame hangings or compostable pots with flowers within. This really is down to personal taste and the look you are hoping to create.
Captured from @Nomadicdinners
Technology has introduced all types of invites which means paper is no longer a necessity. There is an abundance of free website platforms where couples can list all the wedding information that any guest will need, from transport, catering, rsvp’s and dietary requirements.
For the creatives amongst you, the likes of Canva also mean you can design your own wedding invite, save as a JPEG and what’s app this, or email it to your tech savvy guests. This is instant, saves on postage, and you don’t have to have a degree in graphic design to use it.
For those of you who wish to do things the old way, why not opt for invites using recycled paper? These can be decorated as you wish, maybe using old material scraps and hand drawing the designs yourself, or there are many illustrators out there who can design these items for you. Look at this lovely design created by "Vanessa Christine Illustrator" design below.
Design and photo by @Vanessachristineillustration
Getting guests to a venue obviously takes transport and transport uses fuel. If you are lucky enough to have a gem of a venue on your doorstep with limited logistics involved, then why not opt for this? Failing this, you could look at a shared transport option where guests board a pre booked bus, boat, or tractor-drawn trailer, to transfer them to and from the venue. Transport options come in all shapes and sizes and can be part of the fun of the day itself.
Captured at Flo & Harry's wedding
Use glass instead of plastic
On initial inspection, plastic may seem like the cheapest option for your bar area refills and mixers, but one idea which has been around for several years now is to give your guests a glass of their own on arrival. Some couples use old jars for this, or you can merely hire enough glasses, one for each guest, which once a name tag is attached, is theirs for the evening. Obviously a few extra need hiring in case of breakages, but this option is much more eco-friendly than those throw away plastic tumblers at the end of an evening.
Buy second hand
A shift towards a circular wedding economy is starting to pop up everywhere. It used to be limited to car boot sales and charity shops, which in my opinion are still excellent places to frequent. Now, there are also sites dedicated to the resale of unwanted wedding items. Facebook marketplace, preloved, gum tree, recycle my wedding and most wedding directories have areas solely devoted to this. The idea of reusing is openly encouraged and embraced, leading to more prevalence in the minds of us, the consumer. Most of the items for sale, really have only been used once and when you are done; you too can relist the products used and repeat the process.
Favours are something some couples like to do; others feel this is one extra job they could do without. Whatever your opinion, these too can give something back. For the green fingered amongst you, small potted plants can be a lovely little gift. These not only decorate the tables, but also mean each guest has a little oxygenator of their own as a wedding gift.
If plants aren’t your thing, think anything edible. Cupcakes, home infused slow gin, chutney, marmalade, you get the idea. Local suppliers for this sort of thing are everywhere as more and more people opt for the personal local touch, over mass produced goods.
The bigger things
Props, furniture and bars fall all under this category. The greenest approach to this is to hire these items or to make them yourselves, using old materials in need of recycling.
If you opt for the hire method, look for companies with a good ethos. Some will recycle, buy second hand, or will hand craft the items you have in mind. Head to the ‘about’ section of your supplier’s page to find out where they source their items or ask them directly.
If you opt to make these items yourselves, Pinterest is a one stop shop for ideas and methods. It’s really inspiring to see the beautiful products that can be created from another’s person waste.
Here at the natural hire company, some of our favourite creations include our bars which were made using recycled pallet wood, along with this fan backdrop which was constructed using old floorboards. These boards were destined for the skip, until my husband salvaged and brought them home!
If you are opting for a table plan, why not create the place names using recycled materials which the guest can keep once the wedding is over.
Washed up sea glass can be a beautiful addition to a summer table display; pebbles for a beach-boho vibe; small wooden circles for a whimsical woodland feel; slate for sleek and classical, the list goes on and provides an opportunity for the least craft-minded couple to get crafty.
We love Bewilderly for her inspiring portfolio of place names using some of the materials listed above.
Photocredit @Jack Aldridge photography
Wedding dresses and guest outfits usually mean around 200 people rushing to the shops to buy that one statement outfit. Without depressing us all too much, it’s worth noting that we in Great Britain send 700,000 tonnes of clothing to recycling centres or clothing banks each year.
Some of the materials our clothes are made from cannot be recycled, so why not request that your guests make it their mission to buy second hand, reuse, or to borrow from a friend. This may sound bizarre and may provoke that awkward relative to raise an eyebrow, but if you’re lucky enough to have a family like the ones I’ve worked with, I’m sure you’ll receive nothing but support for this ethical suggestion.
The bride and groom can be involved too as once again, buying second-hand wedding dresses and suits is easier than ever before thanks to the large array of shops and dress agencies devoted to supplying just this.
If you want to cut your event emissions as much as possible, opt for an acoustic form of music. Many musicians can achieve a clear quality of sound using only their instruments and voices.
Going one step further, look for quirky bands which add a whole new experience to the music section of your evening. One of my most memorable wedding guest experiences was attending my friend’s marquee wedding several years ago. She opted to use a local steel band, who used bins, tins, and anything shiny you could get a sound out of.
I have never seen a dance floor so full, as the sound they created seem to appeal to all age groups. I don’t think anyone sat down for 3 hours and the atmosphere was electric, which seems ironic as none was used to achieve it!
Whatever you opt for, there are ideas and inspiration out there for everyone.